In 1987 the archaeologist Walter Alva discovered the tomb of one of the most powerful men of ancient Peru: the Lord of Sipán, who was one of the rulers of the Moche, or Mochica, a civilisation that dominated the northern coast between 100 and 800 A.D. and built adobe pyramids decorated with colourful murals, some of which are still in an excellent state of preservation.
The Lord of Sipán was covered in impressive ornaments of gold, silver, turquoise, and spondylus (a type of mollusc). Also found in the tomb were skeletal remains of women, children, soldiers and animals that were sacrificed and buried to accompany him to the afterlife. The discovery drew worldwide attention, as it was the first tomb of an ancient Peruvian ruler to be recovered intact.
The Sipán Archaeological Complex, also known as the "Huaca Rajada" or "Split Tomb," features a site museum that houses the artefacts found within the tomb itself. Additionally, the Sipán Museum of Royal Tombs in nearby Lambayeque exhibits skeletal remains, jewellery and ceramics, among other archaeological finds from the tomb.
Location: 35 km (22 miles) from Chiclayo, Lambayeque department.
Average temperature: average annual temperature of 20°C (68°F). During the summer the temperature may exceed 30°C (86 °F); during winter it may drop to 15°C (59 °F).
Season: all year round.
Access by Land: 40 minutes by bus from Chiclayo to Huaca Rajada. The Sipán Museum of Royal Tombs is located in the city of Lambayeque, 10 minutes from Chiclayo.